One of the great things about using Google Reader, is that as it continues to evolve, so does my use of it.
About a year ago, I was assigned to a project at work that was to be built in MOSS 2007. So I created a "MOSS" tag and subscribed to feed after feed after feed. I just KNEW that Google was going to roll out search capability within reader and when they did, I had a finely honed list of resources from which I could do a targeted search for issues that arise during development.
The number of feeds I subscribe to hovers around 200. I've tried to cut back, but when I review my trends I realize that (for the most part) the high volume feeds I keep around are ones I truly value, and some of the "maybe I'll kill this one" feeds are updated so infrequently, I don't see any of them as enough of a time-waster to unsubscribe.
I used to painstakingly force every feed into a label... Some made sense -- Keeping all of my MOSS feeds tagged "MOSS" makes a targeted search a piece of cake. Some didn't. I used to have a "local" tag that I used for feeds that were from Nashville-area sites and blogs. Except I also had category tags, like "mommy stuff", "food" or my ever-popular "web dev tech agile blah blah blah" where most of my (non-MOSS) work-related stuff goes. So I was double tagging feeds for "local" and whatever else. But the fact is, I really don't *care* if a feed is local, unless the topics it covers are strictly local. So "local" is now strictly local... Like specific Nashville news feeds, weather, my favorite car dealership and an area restaurant review site.
I have my "a-list" tag. For that handful of feeds I want to check first, since I enjoy reading them. There's a "diversions" tag for things like Dilbert, xkcd and "Lost". Stuff that I look at when I have time. Stuff that I might breeze by when in a hurry but also might appreciate having around when I'm looking for something to entertain me. There's my "me" tag that includes feeds from my blog (posts and comments), flickr, tumblr, library card alerts, some custom (ego) Google searches, my Google base stuff, and some other me-related info. And some other categories that are important enough to me to keep separate. 11 categories and an "almost everything" tag. Anything that's not categorized goes into "almost everything". Some things that are tagged with a category are double-tagged "almost everything", but the reasoning isn't important enough to get into here.
There are two other BIG changes in the way I use Google Reader lately.
1. I used to view all of my feeds in "Expanded view". No longer. Most categories (folders) are viewed in "list view" and I scan the list and click through to see the details if I'm so inclined. Once I reach the end of the list, I mark all items as read and move on to another tag. I don't freak out (any more) that I might have overlooked something that might have been of interest to me. I figure I'm over-informed as it is, and if it's something really relevant, someone else will either link to it or share it or forward it to me. Note to the Google Reader team: I would *really* appreciate it if I could set my preferred view by tag, you know, under "folder settings".
2. I have started tagging individual items for follow-up.
I try to tag any items I comment on as "commented" so I can check back and see if someone responded to me. Not everyone responds with an email or gives me the option to subscribe to follow-up comments. Things that I might want to try (like this or this), I tag "try it". Both of these types of items, I used to star, then would have to think about why I starred them. Interestingly enough, the star functionality is going away. Fine by me - sharing and tagging individual items should cover what the star did... but I have a couple of things starred that I should probably tag now.
Items that I want to read but don't have the time to read right now, I tag "later". Then, when I am home and J.J. is in bed and I don't feel compelled to clean the kitchen or grab some extra sleep, I can read them. I used to simply mark these types of items as "unread" but found I usually skimmed past them the next time I checked my reader. Now, they sit there waiting for me.
A few side notes...
Ever since the ability to see my friends' shared items came about, I started thinking more about what I share. I mean, I share an item because I'm interested in it, and I think it might interest someone else. But I wonder if I share more (or fewer) items because I know (think) there are people out there using reader who now see my shared items prominently.
I'm also a big supporter (fundamentally, not financially) of Readburner, because I think it's cool to see who else is sharing the items I share. I would *love* for Google Reader to give me that information, but am happy it's available elsewhere, even if it might be incomplete information.
And I'm also digging the "show details" link that Reader added. I was tickled to discover that I was the sole subscriber to Rex's RexHammock.com for a few days. Hi Rex. :o)